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Book Review of Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

I am a homemaker, mother and a wife. I have a passion for books. I always like to know about different books and love to read them.

About the Author and the Book

Michelle Magorian, the author of this book, is an English author. She was born in 1947 in Portsmouth, Hampshire. Though she has written many children's books, she always wanted to become an actress, hence, has performed in plays, musicals, and one-woman shows.

‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ was her first novel for young people. It took her four and a half years to complete this novel. The novel was first published in the UK by Kestrel Books in the year 1981. It has also been published in the USA, France, Germany, Japan, Denmark, Holland, Sweeden, and Finland. This book became so popular that she is best known because of this novel. The book won many awards including the 1982 Guardian Prize for British children's books. The book has been adapted for the screen as well as the stage. It was adapted as a movie in the year 1998 and won a BAFTA award.

The idea of the main character of the book Willam Beech came to her mind from the Beech tree. As the Beech tree has a slim trunk, the same she made the character of her story, a very slim boy.

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Storyline

It is the story of an eight-year-old boy Willie Beech, whose full name is William Beech. Willie is an evacuee from London during the start of World War II. He has been evacuated to a small countryside village, where he is to stay with a crotchety loner, Mr. Tom Oakley. When Willie arrives at Mr. Tom’s house, his condition is not good. He is a malnourished, abused, neglected, and very frightened boy. He does not talk and eat much. He seems very scared. But with the kindness of Mr. Tom and the village community, he becomes more confident and active. His physical condition improves and he makes friends in the village. He has a special friend called ‘Zach’. William also starts going to school and turns into a cheerful and friendly boy. . He loves drawing. Mr. Tom gives him all the relevant material. Everybody in the village, especially Mr. Tom is so fond of him. In his company, Mr. Tom also changes himself and starts participating in the village activities. Everything is going well, until one day, his mum sends a letter to Mr. Tom. She wants William back in London for a few days as she is not feeling well. This changes everything as William has to go back.

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Evaluation

The book is very touching, gentle, frightening but very engaging. The story incorporates friendship, love, trust, and terror. The author has touched on many sensitive subjects beautifully.

The special bond between Tom and Willie is very loveable. Their emotional journey makes the reader read the book till the end. At times, it can bring tears to the reader’s eyes. The stories of other members of the village community are also told side by side in a very delightful way. The later part of the book is more complex and intense as it takes on the issues of abuse, neglect, and also grief.

The story is powerful, detailed, and has many uplifting moments. It is an absolute page-turner. There is also an element of surprise. The author has put a light on how abuse and neglect can ruin the life of a child whereas love, trust and friendship can flourish the same child.

The book is for the ages 9+ years, however, I would recommend it to anybody above the age of 10 years as some nine years might be a bit younger for this book. For very sensitive children, I would suggest parents read the book first.

Overall, it is a wonderful and heart-warming read that is well expressed.

© 2022 SD Mistry

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